Nigerian President Umaru Yar’Adua is
this week expected to formally decree an amnesty for Niger Delta militants who would
surrender their weapons and embrace peace.
president ordered the release of militant leader Mujahid Dokubo-Asari. He was
reportedly arrested Tuesday night on arrival from Germany where he had gone for
Asari was charged in 2005 with treason during the Obasanjo
government, but the charges were later dropped to promote reconciliation.
Professor Kabiru Mato, head of the political science department at the
University of Abuja, told VOA
President Yar’Adua is trying to bring about reconciliation
in the Niger Delta region.
think the president is only responding to the apparent realities in the Niger
Delta. He seems to be rather elated for reasons which a lot of us would not
understand on the acceptance of amnesty by some of the Niger Delta groups,” he
said the government has yet to explain to Nigerians why Asari was arrested in
the first place.
said he doesn’t believe that the mere offer of amnesty and its acceptance by
some groups would lead to the end of the conflict in the Niger Delta.
an honest perspective I do not think the quest for amnesty and the granting of
amnesty on the part of government is in itself any panacea for any lasting peace
in the region,” Mato said.
said lasting peace can only come to the Niger Delta if the government addresses
what he called the obvious problems of social backwardness, economic
backwardness and marginalization which the people have been complaining about.
said he is not sure how the president’s proposed amnesty will address what he
called the problem of economic crimes in the Niger Delta.
a very serious problem of economic crimes which a lot of the elites in the
region, in collaboration with perhaps some foreigners, are committing,” he
said President Yar’Adua is expected to meet Thursday with state governors from
the Niger Delta region along with military chiefs to discuss how to fast-track
his peace-building process and the terms of the proposed amnesty.
He said the president’s proposed
amnesty would probably take effect after that meeting.